Heuer spoke to a crowd in the large physics lecture hall at the University of Maryland. He gave a status update of everything going on at CERN and explained why the Higgs is such a big deal.
"We know everything about the Higgs boson," Rolf-Dieter Heuer said. "We just don't know if it exists." The director-general of CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) spoke confidently to a group at the University of Maryland April 12 about the hunt for the elusive particle that keeps the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) busy. Over the weekend, rumors surfaced that the ATLAS particle detector at the LHC may have detected the Higgs for the first time.[The ATLAS experiment as it appeared in November 2005.]
"The cornerstone of the standard model is missing," Heuer said. "We don't know how to generate mass."
The standard model of particle physics says there are 17 elementary particles that make up matter. Sixteen have been observed but one, the one that explains why matter has mass, the one known as the Higgs boson, has yet to be found.
The ATLAS experiment, one of four particle detectors at the LHC, records collisions between particles smashed together in the collider.
On Thursday, an anonymous poster known as "Higgs?" posted an internal ATLAS note in the comments section of the blog Not Even Wrong suggesting ATLAS had found something that could be the Higgs. The note describes the possible detection of the Higgs at an energy where it was not expected to appear.
The note and speculation about it spread like wildfire on the Internet over the weekend, with some thinking 'This is it - the Higgs has been found!' and others saying this is nothing but a routine memo.
CERN hasn't put out any official statements that I can find, but James Gillies, a CERN spokesman, told WIRED Magazine that, "It’s way, way too early to say if there’s anything in it or not," adding that, "The vast majority of these notes get knocked down before they ever see the light of day."
We'll have to wait and see what comes of it. An internal note is a long way from being a confirmed result, so there is still a long road ahead. Stay tuned...